BREAKING: St. Michael-Albertville Schools Reviewing 'Safety and Security' in Wake of Sandy Hook Shooting

The district will review its emergency procedures using details from the shooting.


St. Michael-Albertville School District administrators plan to review the district's emergency procedures, address students' questions and feelings, and help students cope today with Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The district released information today on its response to the national tragedy that left 20 children and six adults dead at the Newtown, CT school. St. Michael Catholic School also sent an email to parents Sunday night.

The full STMA schools information release is attached to this article as a PDF.

"Safety and security of our students and staff is our number one priority," stated an STMA media release. "The district has comprehensive emergencies plans and procedures for fourteen different types of emergencies that are updated annually and are in place to help avoid tragedies such as this one to the extent possible."

STMA's emergency procedures, such as lockdown, evaluation and relocation, and crisis teams, have been developed using information from the Secret Service Agency, state emergency agencies and local law enforcement. Staff and students also practice emergency drills.

"The district has an outstanding and direct relationship with our local law enforcement agencies," stated the district. "The Wright County sheriff’s office and school district fund two school resource officers in the schools who are trained law enforcement officials.  STMA will use the details from the Sandy Hook tragedy to review our plans and make any changes."

The district will also immediately provide support and explanation to students in the aftermath of the national tragedy.

"As children return to school on Monday, school personnel will help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security," stated the STMA schools media release. "As more information becomes available, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience."

The school states it recognizes that Monday brings a mix of student reaction — some may come to school with no awareness of the incident, while others have seen the television media coverage or discussed it with parents over the weekend.

"Whenever a national tragedy occurs such as at Sandy Hook, children, like many people, may be confused or frightened," stated the release. "Most likely, they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react."

Explanations of the tragedy at school will be age-appropriate, and staff will address concerns as they come individually instead of having a structured activity around the event.

The schools plan age-appropriate explanations with the following plan for each age group, according to the district statement:

Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Children are given simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.

Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discussions may focus on efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Discussions may emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs. 

Current district procedures will be applied Monday to address the tragedy, including:

  • Making sure students are safe at all times
  • Maintain structure and stability within schools
  • Monitor students for signs of fear, anxiety or emotional stress and notify parents or school psychologist as necessary
  • Be aware of students who have recently experience a personal tragedy or who know victims or their families and provide extra support
  • Provide teachers with what to say to students
  • Monitor or restrict viewing scenes of the shooting.

District administrators, teachers and staff encourage parents to contact their child's school if they have questions about the district's response, have questions on how to respond to their child's concerns, or if they are concerned about their child's response to the tragedy.

"Our thoughts and prayers are for the children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the community and families of Newtown affected by the tragedy," the district stated. "While the shooting happened somewhere else, we grieve as parents, educators and community members for the senseless loss of lives."

JoJo December 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I'm guessing that the answer is yes, but I wonder, could an armed person blow through our school doors and through classroom doors? (in STMA)
JoJo December 17, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Additionally, can children/teachers escape through classroom windows if necessary?
Rick December 17, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I'm not sure that many of the classrooms have windows do they? There are a myriad of scenarios that one could envision. What I suggest may already be in place. But ultimately, the classroom doors should be able to be locked and not penetrated by gunfire ect. They should be locked to begin with when the kids are in the room. Next, are guests met at the door and walked into the office? I know when I visited my kids school, I was buzzed in, that's it. Then I walked into the office to register/sign in. What if I kept going? And I know this is going to make certain aspects of our community cringe, but there should be teachers and other employees that are licensed to carry and have the appropriate training to do so. And the only people that know who is carrying should be the Principal. Reading what transpired at Sandy Hook is absolutely heartbreaking. The first thing I noticed is the Principal was one of the first people to encounter the gunman. Had she had a gun and the proper training to confront someone like that, it's quite possible we would not have witnessed the despicable act we saw last Friday.
Chris Marshall December 17, 2012 at 09:22 PM
My 2 cents: Take time to grieve, remember and honor those who perished in CT. I have and continue to do so. At the same time understand that the SAFEST day to have our children in school was TODAY. Amidst the tragedy comes increased security, attention to procedures and a heightened awareness. No different than the days following 9/11. The safest time to fly was the day the airports opened again for travel following 9/11. DON'T let the emotionally disturbed, the terrorists or the bad guys win. Hug your kids, love and cherish them but carry on and move forward with confidence. Send your kids to school with confidence. Last but not least...stay vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings. It is sad and unfortunate that I went to a movie this weekend with my family and had to take time to mentally prepare for and think through an exit plan if needed. It is however the world we live in like it or not. I was prepared and ready to act. Are you? Prepare for the worst and pray for the best possible outcome. May God bless the victims of the CT shootings and the first responders who rushed to their assistance.
Dalia McClellan December 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I really like the fact that STMA Elementary schools have the glass enclosure once you get buzzed in and cannot get into the school only into the office. I feel that they should also have that in our middle schools and High Schools. Also make the glass enclosure bullet proof. And all the windows and doors around the schools should be also bullet proof. It was such a tragedy what happened to those innocent kids, teachers. It was a small town, Great School system such as ours STMA Schools. One can never be to careful. I ask for all of us to come together and get this done, Jesus Protect all our children.
J. A. Darkshner December 18, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Okay Dalia, let's take this one step further. Let's say someone does get buzzed in to the office. That person has a gun and is intending on using it in some sort of a domestic terrorism (because that's what all of these are, a form of terrorism) in the form of a school shooting. What are the staff in the office, where this assailant was just buzzed into, going to really be able to do about it?! The gunman is going to take out the front office staff and then flow on into the remainder of the school without anything to stop them! People need to be identified and have their reason for being there verified before they ever set foot in one of our schools! They should not be buzzed in without this info being known first, and even that does not necessarily fully prevent an incident from happening. But at least it would limit the pool of possible assailants. Trust me, there will be more security measures put into place before long; our school board is going to be working hard to make our district even safer in the wake of the recent tragedy in Connecticut.
Dalia McClellan December 18, 2012 at 11:37 PM
J. A. Darkshner Nobody is allowed in any of our STMA schools without recognition of a staff member. I am sure STMA is planning on extra security measures. For we want our children/teachers/staff members to all be safe. It was a suggestion to have that EXTRA protection of having the glassed enclosure placed in our middle schools and high schools like our Elementary schools have. It saddens me that we must think this way. My prayers go out to all.
J. A. Darkshner December 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Dalia, I say this with the utmost of respect, but you are sorely wrong. The buzzer is purely a tool used to make sure that someone in the office is aware that there is a visitor entering. It would be physically impossible for them to know all of the parents, grandparents and other family or friends that may be picking up any one of our 1000 + students in our district. They do not ask any questions of the people who are buzzing. For someone to say that they "recognize" the visitor is naive. They have no clue who is standing there with the exception of a few repeat parents. Think about the impossibilities of "recognizing" all of the possible visitors.
J. A. Darkshner December 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Just a side note, but bullet proof glass is extremely expensive and in no way could the schools ever afford to install it in all their doors and windows. We are talking millions of dollars to equip the whole district.
J. A. Darkshner December 19, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I am not trying to create a panic here, and the STMA School District has done a fantastic job thus far. But, there is always room for improvement. With brainstorming of ideas from the community and parental support of the School Boards possibly costly improvements, I think we can make our schools even safer for our kids.
JoJo December 19, 2012 at 04:48 AM
As I read over everyone's comments here, it keeps coming to my mind that we really do need armed staff and teachers. Ok, now, after you pick yourself off the floor from that fainting episode (teasing) take a minute to really consider it. Unless the gov't can come up with a super-magnet that can draw every single gun out of the posession of every person in our entire country, gun bans of any kind are just not going to be effective against the criminal minds who aren't interested in following new gun bans. I would think that many teachers etc are realizing that having a handful of secretly armed and well trained teachers and staff throughout the building is the only defense against madmen/women who are aiming their evil at busy buildings with signs out front that state "guns banned on the property." What an invitation! So let us stop wringing our hands and suggesting legislation that will help us sleep better but not solve the problem in real life. The risk is admittedly small, but short of fortifying the schools as prisons (which, someone pointed out, is cost-prohibitive) we need a better solution. Or, we can just let our kids sit as ducks for the hunter, without a line of solid defense. I personally would rather my children witness the BAD GUY getting shot than their classmates. God be with those dear grieving friends and families in CT.
Chris Marshall December 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Let's change the sign on the school door from "guns banned on this property" to "this property has faculty armed and ready to protect". I have no doubt there are school faculty members who are responsible, ready, willing and able to carry weapon to defend our children. Let's wake up and stop denying the fact that gun violence is a reality in our schools.
J. A. Darkshner December 19, 2012 at 04:17 PM
JoJo, I actually agree with you completely. And the argument of well, they are teachers, not law enforcement is a bunch of bull! It is true, they are not law enforcement, but that certainly doesn't mean they are not gun enthusiasts or willing to step up to protect the innocent lives they have influence upon everyday. The problem is the lack of support for something like this. If you really want to combat the arguments against arming our teachers, look at it this way: If you trust them everyday with the safety and educational goals of your childrens lives, then why wouldn't you trust them to be armed to continue to ensure your childrens safety and development?! It makes PERFECT sense and there are schools in Texas right now that have been doing it for years. Google it and see for yourselves.
JoJo March 13, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Great comments, D.A. and Chris! I just found out last night that the state has a great loophole that allows superintendants and possibly principals of schools to give permission to teachers who have a permit to carry license to carry at school. Such good news, to know that it's quite likely admin are letting teachers throughout Minnesota arm themselves to keep kids safe. Awesome!
J. A. Darkshner March 13, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Get outta here. That's awesome! Thanks for the info.
JoJo March 13, 2013 at 04:16 AM
Oops, sorry I typed D.A., meant J.A.! :)


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